Childhood cancer How it affects families

What if your family got torn apart? What if it was because of cancer? What if that cancer was in a child? Childhood cancer is not only hard on the child who got diagnosed, but also the people they care about, especially their family.

When I was young, about four years old, somebody in my family got diagnosed with cancer. I don't remember it well now, as it was nine or ten years ago, but I remember being a little confused.

These are cancer cells.

I knew that the person had cancer, but I didn't know what cancer was, what it did, and how dangerous it is. I didn't really know what to feel back then except for curious, confused, and scared, but now I would probably feel a range of emotions, still including scared.


When a child is diagnosed, it can change a family's attitude. Everybody will be trying to control their own feelings, while trying to help everyone else control theirs. The most common feeling are worry, distress, fear, shock, and anger.

Sorry this drawing is so bad. It's all I could do in a minute.

My survey

This was the main question in my survey

I took a survey of eighth graders to get results on feelings on cancer. The main question I asked was "How would you feel if someone you are close to got diagnosed with cancer?"

The results were mixed.

Not all feelings will be mentioned because some said more than one, so the percents may not add to 100%.

The most common feeling would be worry. 55% of the people who took the survey said that they would be worried. I probably would be worried, but the option I would've picked on my survey would be "all of the above except for happy".

10% of the people said that they would be shocked.

Another 10% said that they would be in disbelief.

Five percent of people said that they would be distressed.

And somebody said "WAAAAHHH!" (This option was not in there, it was the "other" option, where you can write in the blank).

I had to put that in because it would be a common reaction to this (but not an emotion). I would probably be like that too.

Analyzing My Results

This survey didn't give me the results I fully expected. Nobody said that they'd be angry, while research says that anger is a common emotion to feel.

I put eight feeling options to choose from on my survey, and nobody picked simple emotions like...

Happy (but who would be happy if somebody you are close to got cancer?),


And mad.

This shows that childhood cancer causes complex emotions, like distress, worry, shock, disbelief, and more, but not simple emotions like happy, sad, and mad.

Changes in Family relationships

Families are brought closer together when a child is diagnosed with cancer, despite all the hardships and negative factors of the cancer. Parents usually tend to appreciate their children and each other more than they did before the diagnosis.

Effects on parents

The most common feeling for a parent to feel if their child gets diagnosed with cancer is devastation. Anger, guilt, fear, denial, and sadness are also common feelings. It may be hard for the parent to process the diagnosis, and they will need to prepare for the impact that childhood cancer has on the family.


After a while, the parent will most likely help and support the child and the family throughout the process of the cancer and the treatments, and help them cope with their disease. A parent who seems under control and shows love will be the most supportive to the family.

Children with cancer need support and strength to help the, through their disease


Kids with cancer usually appreciate their parents more. The last words of a kid dying from cancer was about loving his parents.

"The boy, who had drug problems and had been alienated from his parents, took his mother's hand and told her: `You know, I never used to like you. But now I love you,’" says the New York Times.


A parent may feel many different emotions at many different times when a child has cancer, and that is totally okay. One day, a parent might be able to control their emotions, while other days they can't. "There is no right or wrong way to feel," says the Cancer Council Victoria.

Effects on siblings

Seeing a sibling in the hospital in pain can cause the siblings of the cancer patient to get scared. They could feel like they lost the special relationship between them and the sibling who has cancer. Feeling alone is also a common feeling.

Attention and jealousy

Because of all the attention that the child with cancer is getting, siblings may feel jealous and angry. They also may think that they are the cause of the child's cancer, which makes them feel guilty.

Jealousy, anger, and guilt are common feelings for a sibling to experience when a child has cancer.

Changes in social life

The siblings of cancer may lose friends because they think that the whole family is "contaminated." They may also not do well in school, and suffer behavioral changes.

A 1980s Survey

Dr. Gerald P. Koocher conducted a survey of childhood cancer survivors and their families. The question was "Should a child be told of their diagnosis?" Mostly everybody answered yes, and 71% of siblings of survivors said yes.

Effects on close relatives

These are cancer cells.

Close relatives will have similar reactions to the child's cancer as parents. But, getting updates on the child's condition can help them cope with their feelings. It also helps to be with the child when they are going to the hospital sometimes.

Helping the chilD

Relatives will want to help, but often won't know how, or what to do. Also, people will want to help in different ways and feel differently from everybody else. Even though some people may not be helping that much, their intentions will most likely be good. Parents will usually ask people to help in specific ways, and people are usually willing to help in any way they can.

Supporting the child

Read the emojis from sad to happy, not left to right. This image is to show that support can bring a child from a sad emotion to a happy emotion.

While a child with cancer can cope with their emotions, they sometimes need extra support form their family. The children will usually go to the parent for support, but sometimes won't know how to ask. Parents need to give extra support when the child is acting strangely, not eating or sleeping well, and other signs.

Boosting the survival rate

About 43 children get diagnosed with cancer every day, and one and five of those children will die. Unfortunately, cancer is not totally controllable, and the rates of the number of diagnoses per year have not lowered significantly in the last 20 years, but we can help the survival rate go up by research and support for the child.


There is hope for children with cancer

Childhood cancer causes many emotions and effects for different people, and people's lives can be changed by it. We need to help the children get through their cancer, even though it may be hard for them and us. But, we can all hope that the child will survive, and hope that their family is put back together again.

Works cited!


Created with images by skeeze - "cancer cells cells scan" • euthman - "CIN 3 With Gland Involvement" • Q8y_dream - "hope"

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